Scouts worlds apart share experiences
January 16, 2009
By Larry Edmond
FORT GORDON, Ga. -- About 35 Girl, Cub and Webelo Scouts gathered at Fort Gordon's Signal Towers January 10 for a video teleconference with other scouts from Fort Hood, Texas and Baghdad, Iraq.
During the teleconference, the children learned about each other's culture and how scouting is different in the nations.
While the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, as they are called outside of the United States, had been established in the Middle Eastern country in 1921, their practice had been banned under Saddam Hussein's regime. The programs weren't re-instated until 2004.
Brig. Gen. Robin Swan, deputy commander for the Multi-National Division in Baghdad, spoke to all three groups before the children were allowed to ask questions. Swan, an eagle scout, said the children would learn valuable lessons in scouts they would take with them all their lives.
"Stay the course. Develop your experiences; develop your leadership potential," he said. After Swan spoke, children from each post were allowed to ask questions.
Many of the questions pertained to scouts.
One child from Fort Hood asked the Iraqis if they read Boy's Life Magazine, the official Boy Scout magazine. The Iraqi scout, who answered, said he liked reading the articles and "especially the cartoons."
The Fort Hood children wanted to know about camping and if the Iraqis got the opportunity to do that. The answer was no.
Children from the Augusta area asked what kind of music they listened to, and an Iraqi girl answered "good music" naming a popular rock singer.
They also wanted to know what types of food the Iraqis ate. The list included pizza.
The Iraqis wondered how the American children juggled their scout activities and school.
Lt. Col. John Moehlter, currently serving in Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division, arranged the event. His Family is in the Augusta area, and his sons were part of one of the participating scout groups. In an e-mail distributed after the teleconference to all who supported the undertaking, Moehlter said the event was a tremendous success.